About the Institute

Teaching Āyurveda and Yoga since 1978

Our sister organization, Mount Madonna Center, has been well-known for the integrity and excellence of its regularly offered Yoga and Āyurveda programs since 1978. Mount Madonna Institute emerged from that humble beginning and was officially formed in 2006 to formally train and graduate exceptional practitioners who meet modern standards of practice and education set by professional associations in the United States, including the Yoga Alliance and the National Āyurvedic Medical Association.

History of Mount Madonna Institute

  1. 1971


    In 1971 some Americans went to India to study Yoga and found their way to a teacher, Baba Hari Dass. They asked him to come to the U.S. to teach, and he agreed. Slowly, by word of mouth, a group grew of people who came to study and practice Ayurveda and Yoga with him.

  2. 1974


    In 1974, that group formed the Hanuman Fellowship, taking the name of an ancient Indian deity representing service and devotion.

  3. 1978


    In 1978, the fellowship founded Mount Madonna Center, a 355-acre mountaintop property. From the very beginning, Baba Hari Dass taught not only Yoga, but also Ayurveda – and these were the first programs we offered, in the summer of 1978 – at the time a science of health and healing little known in the West. 

  4. 1982


    In the years that followed, a series of pioneers presented Ayurveda programs at Mount Madonna Center – first Babaji, then Dr. Trivedi, Dr. Svoboda, Dr. Lad, Dr. Singh, and Dr. Shrestha. One of the students in one of those first programs (1982) was Cynthia Ambika Copple, who went on to become our founding Dean of the College of Ayurveda. 

  5. 2005


    As the Center proved successful and grew, others also obtained Ayurveda training, and slowly a group came together of people deeply interested in starting a School of Ayurveda. In 2005, that group’s vision and energy were strong enough that the decision was made to form a new Institute, featuring a College of Ayurveda. Approvals were obtained, a substantial loan was borrowed, space was set aside for classes, and intense work began on developing curriculum, faculty, administration, logistics, a website, marketing, and an application to the State of California for approval to operate the Institute and its College of Ayurveda.

  6. 2007


    We received approval from the State of California, and, in January 2007, Mount Madonna Institute was approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to offer degree programs and admitted students to its first College of Ayurveda Diploma Program. Since that first class entered in 2007, we have graduated many classes of Diploma, Certificate (Practitioner), and Masters Degree students.

  7. 2015


    Mount Madonna Institute has applied for Eligibility from the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). WSCUC has reviewed the application and determined that the University is eligible to proceed with an application for Candidacy and Initial Accreditation!

  8. 2019


    Mount Madonna Institute's Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Course received accreditation by the International Association of Yoga Therapists in 2019.

Mission Statement

Integrating Mind, Body & Spirit

Mount Madonna Institute is committed to wellness and positive transformation. We offer trainings, certificates, and graduate degrees that integrate the traditional systems of Yoga, Ayurveda and Community with contemporary life and prepare graduates for a variety of careers in the integrative health professions.

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Mount Madonna Institute Organizational Structure

Mount Madonna Institute operates under a governing structure using a Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for directing the Institute toward the achievement of its stated mission and pursuance of established institutional standards. The Board of Directors exercises ultimate authority over all academic and institutional functions and holds ultimate legal control over the Institute. While the Board of Directors is not responsible for the day-to-day decisions of the Institute, it does decide all major policies and issues affecting the educational aspects of the Institute. The Board of Directors is also responsible for the selection and evaluation of the Institute’s President and CEO.


Kathleen Savita Brownfield


Interim Provost: Dr. Mary M. Somerville, MLS, CAS, MA, PhD

College of Āyurveda - Department Chair: Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar, BAMS, MD (Ayurveda)

School of Yoga - Department Chair: Ginger Kamalesh Hooven, MA-Ayurveda, E-RYT 500

School of Community Studies - Administrator: Jennifer Dove

Research Center: Shraddha Ravani, PGD

Institutional Effectiveness: Sumathi Lingappa, MS, MA-Ayurveda

Student Services

Registrars: Sean Neesley, E-RYT 500 (School of Yoga), Caitlin Berry (College of Ayurveda) and Jennifer Dove (School of Community Studies)

Clinical Administration: Sumathi Lingappa, MS, MA-Ayurveda

Library Services: Dr. Mary M. Somerville, MLS, CAS, MA, PhD

Marketing & Finance

CFO: Shanti Cruddas

Finance Team – Lila Ansell and Jaya Maxon

Bursar: Carey Schlett, MPH

Publicity & Social Media: Mariah Giunta

MMI Board
  • Dr. Swarup Wood, PhD, Chair
  • Cathy Purnima Conway, MS
  • Jennifer Rand, BA, Secretary
  • John Dayanand Diffenbaugh, E-RYT
  • Dr. Richard Bernstein, DO
  • Mary Champagne, CPA
  • Yolanda Sangita Diaz-Houston, PhD
  • Paula Anima Holtz, PhD, RN, FNP
  • Timothy J. Walsh, JD
  • Deborah Manisha Wechsler, RN, PHN, MPH
  • Dr. Mary M. Somerville, PhD
  • Sathya Narayanan, MBA

    • Peter Block, MA
    • Paul Born, MA
    • Cynthia Ambika Copple, BA, CMP
    • Gerald Brajesh Friedberg, PhD
    • Cyd Jenefsky, PhD
    • Iris Kachuck, PhD
    • Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc
    • Ralph Wolff, PhD
    Master Faculty and Instructors

    Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar, MD (Ayu. India), Pune Ayurvedic University, Pune, India, 1992.

    Chair of Ayurveda at MMI. Faculty of Distinction, Core Faculty, Curriculum and Assessment Committee. Teaches in all Ayurveda programs - AHC, C-AP, MA-Ayurveda.

    An esteemed clinician who has treated over 15,000 clients, Dr. Kshirsagar is a Research Consultant for Ayurvedic nutraceutical companies, and also is one of the few Ayurvedic practitioners in the U.S. who practices Medical Astrology. He is a gold medalist from prestigious Pune University.

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    School of Yoga Faculty

    MMC Staff & Senior Students of Baba Hari Dass

    All of our faculty have been directly trained by Master Yogi Sri Baba Hari Dass, who is affectionately called “Babaji”.

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    Academic Catalog

    Find all program and course descriptions, calendar dates, admissions info, student's rights and responsibilities, and academic policies.

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    Mount Madonna Center

    Campus & Facilities

    The Institute is located at and hosted by Mount Madonna Center's beautiful Conference and Retreat Center. The setting offers an ideal environment for learning and exploring within the context of a 40-year-old residential community dedicated to the principles and practice of Yoga. Students have the opportunity to directly connect, not only with residents, faculty, and other student body, but with the natural world that informs the foundations of Āyurveda and yoga philosophy. Our campus is currently closed until February 2021.

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